In the News
Patch: Island Park's Austin Boulevard Set For Major Improvement
$5 million in federal grant money will allow the state to improve the accident-plagued road.
By Alex Costello
Austin Boulevard in Island Park, which has for years been a topic of concern in the community, is finally getting its long-awaited improvements this year.
According to the schedule of work released by the state's Department of Transportation, Austin Boulevard is set to receive a $5.4 million renovation in 2017. The road has been the site of many accidents -- and some fatalities -- over the years.
For years, residents of Island Park have been voicing concerns about how dangerous the road is to cross on foot, how fast cars drive on it, how hard it is to park and many other concerns.
"This project will make Austin Boulevard safer for both drivers and pedestrians, improve the flow of traffic and benefit our local businesses," said Representative Kathleen Rice, who helped secure the federal funding. "This is a significant investment in our district’s infrastructure and our local economy, and I’m excited to see work get underway."
The initial plans for the project were presented years ago, but the project had never gotten under way. The major renovation will include widening the road's center left-turn lanes from nine to 11 feet, allowing cars to have more maneuverability. The regular travel lanes and parking lanes will also be widened.
There will also be pedestrian safety upgrades made to the seven-lane road. New crosswalks with pedestrian crossing lights will be added, and the lights will have a countdown, so pedestrians know how much time they have left to cross.
In addition to the lights, the plan calls for creating pedestrian "bump-outs" at the intersections. These areas serve multiple purposes, including making pedestrians more visible to drivers and shortening the distance they have to travel across the street.
"I'm glad construction will soon start to improve road safety in Island Park and I thank Representative Rice for her help in securing the funds," said state Senator Todd Kaminsky. "This long-overdue project will make Austin Boulevard safer and more convenient for drivers and pedestrians. I will continue to advocate that significant resources be devoted to repairing roads across the district."
Austin Boulevard is the main thoroughfare in Island Park, and is one of the only ways to get out of Long Beach. It is an emergency evacuation route, and making sure it is able to handle large amounts of traffic is important.